Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Nessman's Box

"Outside the box" is one of my favorite cliches. (Yes, I allow myself to have favorite cliches, sue me.) It gets across in one succinct phrase all the dangers of these artificial boundaries we erect between what we are comfortable with and what is possible. It also illustrates the benefits of being one of those who is willing to step across the yellow tape surrounding our imaginary boxes. We all live like Les Nessman from the WKRP television show. Imaginary walls that provide us with imaginary comforts. Please use the imaginary door to enter and don't forget to wipe your feet on the imaginary mat. I feel like writers and publishers are more guilty of laying tape around our comfort zones than anyone else. We live and work in an industry that has - more than any other - remained virtually untouched by the last 500+ years of technological advancement. From the scribes at their desks in the monasteries to the guy at the cafe typing on his laptop, all that is different are the tools we use to put the ink on the paper. Yet in the past ten years, the idea of the book or newspaper has changed so drastically that we sometimes forget that the tapelines that form the boundary of our imaginary worlds exist largely as a matter of tradition. And the tape is peeling. My recent series of posts here at P2T have focused on how other forms of creative storytelling can add colors to an author's palette. In this ongoing meditation, I've talked about how Commedia del Arte informs my character choices, play writing helps me hear my dialogue and role playing helped me see the story from the inside. All of these are methods by which I break down those imaginary walls. For me, this blog is yet another step across the tape -- a place where I can think out loud about these things and maybe get some feedback from like-minded folk. Do you know a novelist that works outside the traditional boundaries? Someone I might not have heard of? Talk about it in comments! I'm curious to hear from you. ---
Scott Walker Perkins writes literary thrillers and novels of suspense woven from the threads of history. His current novel is The Palimpsest and he is working on another tentatively titled 42 Lines.
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Pages to Type is a blog about books, writing and literary culture (with the occasional digression into coffee and the care and feeding of giant robots).